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How to be a Model (A 12 Step Plan)

How to be a Model (A 12 Step Plan) is everything you didn’t anticipate. This ex-model uses her newfound filmmaking skills to take viewers behind the scenes of this not-so-glamorous lifestyle, and - instead of teaching us how to become a model - she teaches us how to recover from modeling. Beda says “to be a model necessitates recovering from being a model,” and that is why the 12-step program shows the audience how to survive the harsh realities of modeling rather than how to enter this grueling industry.

The film follows Beda’s friend, Peggi Lepage, a 28-year-old international model with “one-more-year syndrome.” Through this, the audience sees the real world of modeling, not the glitzy stuff shown on TV and in movies. We learn the hardships, such as the daily battles most models have with their self-esteem, the strains on their relationships and, of course, the steps.

Naturally, step one is to meet the physical requirements. Most already know that only a small percentage of people actually have bodies that meet these requirements. According to Beda, 90% of the known world cannot be a model based on their physical measurements. We also learn, through a later step entitled “Are you really meeting the physical requirements?” that even models with the "correct" height, bust and waist size may not be what the market wants. Many models have plastic surgery, and one in ten do not have an eating disorder.

Another step, instructs viewers to have an anchor in the “real” world. Since, as Beda illustrates, the modeling industry simply uses and disposes its models, the assistance of people outside this world is essential. Peggi’s anchor is her mother Patricia, who supports her daughter, but, through tears, expresses her unhappiness with Peggi’s decision to subject herself to such a cruel industry.

Models must also plan on being alone. Friendships last around six weeks, and are disposable. Many girls in the film say they thought modeling would help them make friends, but because of the lifestyle, this isn’t the reality. Also, depression inevitably shadows their lonely existence.

Beda’s last step advises anyone considering modeling to have a second career in mind. Youth is what the agencies and market want, therefore, you cannot model forever. And, as many of the models attest to, modeling is better when you have something to fall back on.

The film also teaches viewers some model lingo. We also learn that “go-sees” are when models walk into agencies and see who can get them work. This often requires walking for miles and hours. The previously mentioned term one-more-year syndrome describes how a large number of models tell themselves they’ll model for only another year, but many never keep this promise. This is because, as Beda shows, modeling is addicting, despite all of its severities.

Laced with humorous sarcasm, tears and new beginnings, How to be a Model (A 12 Step Plan) demystifies the unforgiving world of modeling, while showcasing the enlightening journeys of career models as well as Beda’s transition into the more rewarding art of filmmaking.

Written by: Michelle Tooker, May 7th 2007

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